Divination in Exile

Interdisciplinary Approaches to Ritual Prognostication in the Tibetan Bon Tradition


In Divination in Exile, Alexander K. Smith offers the first comprehensive scholarly introduction to the performance of divination in Tibetan speaking communities, both past and present. While Smith surveys a variety of ritual practices, the volume focuses on divination and its associated rites in the contemporary Tibetan Bon tradition. Drawing from multi-site ethnographic fieldwork conducted in Himachal Pradesh and the translation of previously unpublished Tibetan language materials, Divination in Exile offers a valuable, social scientific contribution to our understanding of the perception and usage of ritual manuscripts in contemporary Tibetan cultural milieus.

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Alexander K. Smith holds a doctorate in the anthropology of Tibet and the Himalayas from the École pratique des hautes études (2016). Until recently, he was a deputy professor of social anthropology at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg.
List of Figures and Tables

Introduction: Interdisciplinary Perspectives

1 The Study of Tibetan Divination
 1 Introduction
 2 The Study of Tibetan Divination in the West
 3 Divination in European and American Scholarship
 4 Divination Eliminates Anxiety and Facilitates Decision Making
 5 Divination, Dialogue, and Rationality

2 Tibetan Divination and the Bon Tradition
 1 A Brief Introduction to Tibetan Divination
 2 Remarks on Tibetan Buddhist Historiography and the Origins of Divination
 3 General Remarks on the Bon Religion
 4 Bonpos in the Contemporary Diaspora Community
 5 Two Classifications of Bon Religious Teachings: the sGo bzhi mdzod lnga and Theg pa rim pa dgu
 6 The Classification of Divination and Its Origins in the Bon Tradition: Excerpts from the gZi brjid
 7 Divination Manuscripts in the Bon Canon

3 lDe’u ‘phrul Divination
 1 Introduction
 2 lDe’u ‘phrul Divination
 3 lDe’u ‘phrul Origin Narratives
 4 Location
 5 Outline of the lde’u ‘phrul Rite
 6 lDe’u ‘phrul Prognostics: Major and Minor Results
 7 The Interpretation of Prognostics

4 The Divination of sMra ba’i seng ge
 1 Introduction to the sMra seng rdel mo gsal ba’i me long
 2 Transliteration Guidelines
 3 Translation of MS

Conclusion: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Tibetan Divination?

Appendix 1: The Divination Gods: Excerpts from the MSAP

Appendix 2: Facsimiles of sMra sing rdel mo gsal ba’i me long bzhugs so

All interested in general Tibetan studies, Tibetan ritual, and the history of the Bon tradition, as well as anyone interested in social scientific approaches to the study of divination.
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